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Contemporary Fiction Holiday

Cinnamon and pumpkin. Bella took in the smells as she crossed her legs and opened her computer. The spicy-sweet aroma woke up her stomach while she waited for her laptop to power up. Ribbons of steam escaped from her drink as she sipped it. Butterscotch and rum, my favorite.  The heat... just right. It took the edge off of her grumbling belly. 

She peered at the screen, the tempo of the crowd was at the right level for concentration. Low conversations with undertones of cackling. Perfect. Bella stretched her long fingers and began to type.

TITLE

Dexter gasped and pulled at the necktie. It tightened as he dangled over the floor. He screamed—no sound escaped. Dexter kicked the air, flinging a shoe across the classroom. Thud. It bounced across the floor.

He hung for a moment, fingers entwined in the ghoulish orange tie. Why would they do this? He has never bothered anyone. It tightened.

***

A cold stream of air swept by Bella. “What was that?” She glanced around.  A bare tree in the middle of the room touched the ceiling. The sunlight that filtered through the bare windows dimmed the lights that draped the tree. She sipped her drink and continued to type.

***

Dexter stretched his bony foot and tried to hook and scoot a desk close enough for him to stand on. The desk weighed too much for his weak ankle.

He stretched the tie in an attempt to loosen it. Air flowed through him. “That’s better.”

***

Bella shivered as a strong breeze brushed her arms. Where is that coming from? She looked behind at a display of Halloween gnomes. Orange black hats covered the heads of the tiny stuffed creatures. Some had brooms, some dressed as black cats, and one with spiders in its white beard. Bella imagined them jumping off the shelf and racing across the counter. She chuckled as she pictured them dancing on the tables in front of the customers. Would they think, oh how cute? Or, would they scream in horror and stampede out of the building?  “I would ask if I could have a dance.”

Bella took another sip of her drink. Bluh… Cold, cold, cold. She stood and stretched, and then trekked over to the counter. She pumped steaming hot liquid into her drink, happy that only a few drops of the cold were left.

She past several tables of chattering adults but stopped at one as a little girl jumped out of her seat and said, “Boo!”

Bella covered her mouth as she gasped and then giggled with the little girl.

She smiled and winked at the girl and continued to her table.

A square bounced from one corner of the computer screen to the other. Bella moved her mouse and woke up her laptop. She thought for a moment about what comes next in her story.

***

A creak caught Dexter’s attention. Is someone coming? Are they friend or foe?

He watched the door as it opened slightly. Who is it? Who is it? His bones shook.

Suddenly, something small jumped onto the desk. Its nose was large. Dexter couldn’t see its eyes. It had a beard that draped to its feet.

“What are you?” Dexter asked and huffed.

“Have you never seen a gnome before?” the little guy asked.

Dexter thought for a moment. “Will Ms. Killmore brought in a herb garden one time and there was a garden gnome in the display.”

“Oh…those are our cousins,” the gnome said.

“Cousin? It wasn’t real.”

“Maybe that one wasn’t but believe me they are real. How can I help you?” the gnome asked.

Maybe he can rescue me. He thought for a moment. To little. “Do you have teeth? I sure could use some help cutting loose this tie.”

Instantly, nine more jumped up on the desk and showed long sharp teeth.

***

Bella leaned back in her chair. Nope. That’s just dumb. She sighed as she backspaced until the gnomes were all gone. “So, Dexter, what happens next?” She wagged her foot. She tapped her fingers on the laptop. She stared for a moment and then started typing.

***

The vent above him blew warm air, blowing the loose-fitting hat off his bald head.

Dexter struggled. “I can’t take this anymore. I give up!” His voice echoed through the vent. Maybe someone will hear me? “Maybe,” he mumbled as he surveyed the vent. “Help me!” he hollered. His words echoed back at him. “Again, he cried out, “Help me!” But only his words called back.

***

Bella stiffened. A cold breeze stirred the hair on her arms. A ghost? Is this place haunted? She hadn’t heard of any hauntings in town. But, again, she had only lived in the town for about three weeks. So…maybe?

She glanced around, calming her fright. Her eyes landed on the gnomes - the top shelf to be exact. The creepy gnome with the poke-a-dote witch’s hat sat on the corner facing her. Did it move?

Bang! She jumped from her chair and gawked at the table. Her drink landed on its side and brown liquid spread across the table. She pushed her laptop from the stream grabbed napkins and sopped up the mess.

Deadline. I have a deadline. Bella sunk back into her chair as her throat tightened. Did a ghost or gnome knock over my drink? “I can’t leave yet. I have to finish this story.” She glanced back at the gnome. “Stay put,” she mumbled.

She raced through, reading her story, and typed to wrap it up.

*** 

With all of his strength, Dexter cried out as he pulled at the tie around his neck.

Finally, the tie loosened. Dexter slipped out. He shook off the horrid trousers and heavy coat that covered his bony body.

Two saucer-eyed ten-year-olds gawked at the skeleton.

Dexter gritted his teeth. “I don’t dress for Halloween. I’m not a decoration.”

The children screamed and bolted for the door.

***

“The end,” Bella said and smiled.

Her smile disappeared as again a cold breeze startled her.

“Ma’am,” Bella peered up. Her eyes stopped on the orange tie that hung around a thin neck.

“Please accept my apologies. I breezed by you several times and didn’t realize you hadn’t ordered yet. May I take your order?”

September 15, 2023 21:36

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7 comments

15:04 Sep 26, 2023

Fun story! Unexpected twist! Very cool!

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Terri Sanders
18:21 Sep 26, 2023

Hi Derrick, Thank you!

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Terri Sanders
18:21 Sep 26, 2023

Hi Derrick, Thank you!

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Dacota S
01:14 Sep 24, 2023

The twists and turns, loved this!!!

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Terri Sanders
01:17 Sep 24, 2023

Thank you!

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Poppy Jackson
16:07 Sep 23, 2023

Loved this so much! The twist at the end was great and I loved the back and forth between the stories :)

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Terri Sanders
16:25 Sep 23, 2023

Thank you!

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